Thursday, October 19, 2006

More on Faith in Public Life

I had one of those "NPR driveway moments" yesterday as I came home from a long two days of meetings and presentations in New York City. The story was called "Republicans Zig: Will Christian Conservatives Zag?" and it was about how some chapters of the Christian Coalition are leaving the national organization because it has become too concerned with issues like the environment, poverty and sex trafficking rather than only concentrating on abortion and same sex marriage. One of the men they interviewed said that the key family issue facing Ohio voters was banning same sex marriage.

Could anyone really believe that? With millions of children in the United States going to bed hungry, with millions of children living in the foster care system, with half of marriages ending in divorce, with increasing violence against women, and girls, with failing school systems and millions of uninsured families (you get the point) - the number one family issue is stopping the committed gay or lesbian couple down the street from getting married?? No wonder the Christian Coalition is worried about losing members and voters.

But the story also raised the issue of people voting for leaders who articulate their faith. This came up in the panel I moderated on Tuesday night at the 92nd Street Y with Dr. Marty Klein, Joan Bertin, and Rev. Barry Lynn. Bertin and Klein argued that our elected officials' faith has no place in their policy making role.

I couldn't disagree more. Our faith informs our values, our attitudes, and our own decision-making. It surely should not be the only factor in deciding how one feels and votes, either as an elected official or as a member of the electorate, but there is no question that my commitment to not only sexual justice but the common good is at least partially based in my own beliefs and faith commitments. There is a role for both faith and science in public life and public policy decisions, and we would be better off if people on all sides of the ideological spectrum began to accept that.

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